1st-of-its-kind exhibit focuses on healing power of art at Steamboat’s First Friday Artwalk
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Healing is a deeply personal process.
“It’s a process by which people rediscover strength, identity and balance in their lives — it looks as varied as there are people,” said Sarah Valentino, behavioral health coordinator at Northwest Colorado Community Health Partnership and a Young Bloods Collective artist.
“Art Heals” is the theme of this month’s First Friday Artwalk collaborative exhibition with artists from Young Bloods Collective and The Foundry Treatment Center showcasing their work at the Steamboat Smokehouse and the Ski Locker.
Each piece of artwork was created based on the prompt: What kind of art heals you?
“Mental health is something that we can all relate to with the ups and downs of life and have empathy for,” said Valentino, who works to provide mental health education across five counties and wanted to create this event in conjunction with Mental Health Month, which is celebrated in May.
“Some art is healing because of the subject; some art is healing just because it offers a creative outlet for the artist,” Valentino said. “It manifests in different ways to different people, and there are many different pathways to wellness, including professional treatments for some people.”
Sarah Coleman, wellness director at The Foundry said this is the first time the local treatment center has created artwork for First Friday Artwalk. About 20 different artists from The Foundry created pieces in the show, a first for each of them.
“It was cool to see how the pieces progressed and changed with each group,” Coleman said. “We gave them zero guidelines and provided a ton of materials and let the creative juices flow. They used everything from canvases, clay, colored pencils, paint, old skis, etc.”
On average, Valentino said about 46 percent of people in the U.S. struggle with mental health problems at some point whether it be anxiety, depression or substance use.
“This is not a small or rare issue,” Valentino said. “It is our friends, families, our children, our loved ones, and it does not discriminate across class, gender or race.”
Having good mental health, however, means more than just the absence of disease or disorder.
“It means that we are able to feel good about our own lives, fulfilled in our relationships and confident about participating in our communities,” Valentino said. “We should always be aware of our mental health. It’s something that everyone has, and something that affects every aspect of our lives, relationships, work, everyday activities and our ability to enjoy all of those things.”
Through this event, Valentino said she hopes people will learn about their own mental health as well as resources available in town.
“I hope that the message of this event, and all other events this month, is that mental health and illness is not just this static state,” Valentino said.
Other mental health-related events include nutrition seminars, mental health first aid classes, community forums about medical marijuana and PTSD and even a family movie night featuring “Inside Out” at the Chief Theater. For more detailed information, visit ncchealthpartnership.org.
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